It only happens once a year, so, let’s celebrate! Today, I turn 23, and I have no clue what’s in store for my birthday. What I do know is that there have been a few “birthday” song titles to hit the charts, and I guess I have to do what I do best. I present to you a post chock full of the top “birthday” songs straight from Billboard Magazine, who, again, forgot to send me a cake. Not even a card? Maybe next year.
We start off our list with a one-hit wonder act from my home state of Massachusetts. From the town of Woburn came The Tune Weavers, a quintet who scored with “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby”. Though it pre-dated the Hot 100 by a year, it managed to get to #5 on Billboard’s similarly formatted Top 100 chart. The group broke up several years later. A version by Ronnie Milsap became a #1 hit on the Country chart in 1986.
In the late 50’s and early 60’s, singer Neil Sedaka was a hot streak with seven top-40 hits, three of them hitting the top ten. The eighth of the former and the fourth of the latter came in January 1962, when “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen” rose as high as #6. Sedaka would eventually find three #1 singles on the Hot 100 as a performer. In June of that same year, singer and actor Johnny Crawford peaked at #8 with “Cindy’s Birthday”. It was his sole top ten single, though he made the top 40 with a handful of other songs.
The last “birthday” hit of the decade was released in 1969 by the Wisconsin-based band Underground Sunshine. “Birthday” was a cover of the popular song by The Beatles, which never saw the light of day as a single, though it did get a promotional release for jukebox play. The remake went to #26 on the Hot 100 and the band never charted in the top 40 again. In fact, there weren’t many birthdays being celebrated period on the charts for another twenty years.
The song that finally broke the dry spell was Johnny Kemp‘s “Birthday Suit”, featured in the movie Sing. It was the followup to his big hit, “Just Got Paid”. However, just like his “Suit”, the results were… barren. It was a #36 peak for the song before it fell off the charts, and that was it for Kemp. Yet again, two decades passed until we could celebrate another birthday in the top 40.
The last two examples of our birthday bonanza tend to be a little more on the naughty side. Listen, you can do whatever you want to, I’m not judging. In 2009, R&B singer Jeremih hit #4 with his debut single, “Birthday Sex”. In some cases, the radio version was known as “Birthday Shhh”, and a lack of support from some programmers who didn’t feel the subject material was appropriate left it dangling just outside the top ten on CHR radio. The other missed the top 40 entirely on the format, but was a big hit at Urban radio. Rihanna, in a remix with boyfriend turned ex-boyfriend turned boyfriend Chris Brown, took a remix of “Birthday Cake” to #24 on the Hot 100 last year.
There have been other format-specific examples of “birthday” songs, like Good Charlotte‘s “Like It’s Her Birthday” from 2010 (#33 CHR) or “Birthday Song” by 2 Chainz and Kanye West (#9 Urban) from just a few months ago, but neither had enough strength to crack the top 40 on Billboard’s big survey.
That does it for our topic of the day. Hope you enjoyed unwrapping this post, and if you want more presents from the top of the pops, follow the blog by clicking the tab below or follow me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.